Cards defeat Colonels for district title

Published 11:10 pm Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The George Rogers Clark Cardinals achieved their sixth straight 40th District championship as they defeated Bourbon County 64-38 Wednesday.

This time it was not smooth sailing for GRC despite the blowouts in the previous two match ups the Cards gave the Colonels in the regular season.

GRC turned the ball over on their first five possessions and was held scoreless for the first three minutes while Bourbon nailed their first two three-point attempts.

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After a timeout, the tables turned for the Colonels as they went on to turn it over their next three possessions to allow GRC back in the game as a 10-9 low scoring first quarter was in the Cards’ favors.

As if the night needed to get any worse for GRC on top of still missing key starters Hayley Harrison and Kennedy Igo, Maleaha Bell took a hard fall after a lay up.

Bell had to be taken off the court on a stretcher as the crowd watched in awe.

When play resumed, GRC was up 13-10.

Bourbon was unable to dribble the ball across half court two possessions in a row which led to two GRC easy lay ins.

The Cards stole a 24-18 halftime lead and never looked back.

GRC’s length and quickness on their press allowed them to make a living off the Colonels’ turnovers.

Bourbon had no chance in the second half as the Cards pulled away.

Jasmine Flowers led the way with 15 points including four three-pointers and Brianna Byars followed with 10 points.

Head coach Robbie Graham could barely find the right words to say how proud he is of his team.

“They’re all different,” he said. “You celebrate differently each time because it’s a different group of kids. This one is a little more special. We had two starters down and when Maleaha went down it was tough. We tried to keep focus and when you see someone go down and you don’t know the extent of their injury. We stepped up, stayed focus and had some girls come off the bench that made some big time plays. We kept grinding.”

Graham said it hasn’t been an easy task winning district championships, but also said his teams in the past and present have all been willing to put in the work.

“We work at it,” he said. “The girls in our program know they’re held to a high standard. They want to be successful and no one wants to be the team that breaks the streak. We’ve seen some come as middle schoolers and leave as seniors. We were talking today about how some of these kids have never lost a district game or in the tournament. We roll our sleeves up and pride ourselves on working hard.”

With Bell going down with an injury, Graham wanted to make sure she knew how important she is to him and the rest of the team.

“I love her like she’s mine,” he said. “I think the world of her mom and her siblings. Prayers go out to her and for fast healing. We pray for her family to get through this process. Hopefully it’s something minor and we hope to get her back soon. Definitely thinking of her at this time and it’s tough. They become like your own kids. Seeing them laying there motionless is tough. I think so much of my kids I feel like they’re mine and it’s tough to see them go down.”

Graham said his team will be back on the court this weekend as they prepare for region next week, but Graham wants to focus on supporting his son as well as the rest of the boys team as they take on Bourbon County Thursday in the 40th District championship.

“We’re going to come and support the boys Thursday,” he said. “I’m going to come and be a dad which is important to me. I want to see those guys be successful and with Jordan (Graham) playing I have a lot of respect for coach (Josh) Cook and that staff. We’re in the gym a lot together and bounce ideas off each other. Hopefully they’ll get to cut some nets down.”

The drawing for the 10th Region tournament match ups will be 9 a.m. Saturday.

Igo, Harrison, Bell and Jasmine Flowers were honored for the All-District Team.

Tyra Flowers, Jasmine Flowers and Byars were honored for the All-Tournament Team.